Although i didn't post about my actual progress whilst writing this post i thought it might be useful to re-visit and share some of the tips i think might make your life easier should you choose to go jumper hunting.
Tip 1: a seam ripper is necessary! I used a fine crochet hook and it took forever to actually pull the thread out. You'll do much better ripping the thread and scissors are much too big and clumsy.
Tip 2: make sure to start at the top of the knitting. If you happen to start at the bottom of the knitting you'll be unravelling backwards and you will need to pass your unravelled yarn through the last loop of each row. Highly irritating. Unfortunately I’m not sure whether there’s a way to tell the top from the bottom. I just start at one end and if it’s not unravelling freely at the sides, it’s probably the wrong end. Go back and start from the other.
Tip 3: Make sure you wind you yarn into a ball as you go. I got all clever and thought I could “skein” the yarn as I unravelled by winding it around my hand/elbow. Yeah. Didn’t work and then I ended up with a tangled mess when I came to wind around the table. Lost a good 3 yards of yarn to a knot. Life's too short to be sat on the floor traveling to unravel a knotted skein.
Tip 4: Don’t bother with acrylic jumpers/sweaters. You can’t dye it (not at home at least) and it’s already cheap when you buy it brand new. Of course if you’re a real eco-warrior you might go for it I guess, but why bother when you could have wool instead?
Tip 5: Your yarn will come out crinkly. It just will, it's a fact of life. Don't worry about it. If you're dying it, the process should help to remove a lot of the kinks. When you're drying it, hang it round a door knob and stick a can of beans or something else weighty in the bottom. It should help to pull the kinks out enough to make it better to knit/crochet with.
You might ask, "Is it worth it?"
Yes it is, if for nothing more than the amount of yarn you can get for a pittance. It’s especially good if you’re a novice at dyeing and you don’t want to risk a rubbishy dye job on a load of brand new yarn. You’re also giving money to charity, saving a jumper from landfill and saving someone from making a fashion mistake. Consider it your good deed for the year.